• synonyms


[kris-muh s]
  1. the annual festival of the Christian church commemorating the birth of Jesus: celebrated on December 25 and now generally observed as a legal holiday and an occasion for exchanging gifts.
  2. Christmastime.
  3. Christmastide.
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Origin of Christmas

before 1150; Middle English cristmasse; Old English Cristes mǣsse Mass of Christ
Related formsChrist·mas·sy, Christ·mas·y, adjectivepost-Christ·mas, adjectivepre-Christ·mas, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for christmas

Yule, Yuletide, Xmas, Noel, Christmastide

Examples from the Web for christmas

Contemporary Examples of christmas

Historical Examples of christmas

  • Christmas was a merry day to all but the major, who did not like the engagement any better than before.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • Even at Christmas, 1597, Shakespeare's passion has reached the height of a sex-duel.

  • The Christmas morning had brought Sidney half a dozen gifts.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • As much as was possible, the hospital rested on that Christmas Day.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • The Christmas excitement had not died out in the ward when Carlotta went back to it.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

British Dictionary definitions for christmas


    1. the annual commemoration by Christians of the birth of Jesus Christ on Dec 25
    2. Also called: Christmas DayDec 25, observed as a day of secular celebrations when gifts and greetings are exchanged
    3. (as modifier)Christmas celebrations
  1. Also called: Christmas Day (in England, Wales and Ireland) Dec 25, one of the four quarter daysCompare Lady Day, Midsummer's Day, Michaelmas
  2. Also called: Christmastide the season of Christmas extending from Dec 24 (Christmas Eve) to Jan 6 (the festival of the Epiphany or Twelfth Night)
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Word Origin for Christmas

Old English Crīstes mæsse Mass of Christ
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for christmas



late Old English Cristes mæsse, from Christ (and retaining the original vowel sound) + mass (n.2).

Written as one word from mid-14c. As a verb from 1590s. Father Christmas first attested in a carol attributed to Richard Smart, Rector of Plymtree (Devon) from 1435-77. Christmas tree in modern sense first attested 1835 in American English, from German Weihnachtsbaum. Christmas cards first designed 1843, popular by 1860s. Christmas Eve is Middle English Cristenmesse Even (c.1300).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

christmas in Culture


A festival commemorating the birth of Jesus, traditionally celebrated on December 25 by most Western Christian churches. Although dating to probably as early as a.d. 200, the feast of Christmas did not become widespread until the Middle Ages. Today, Christmas is largely secularized and dominated by gifts, decorated trees, and a jolly Santa Claus.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.